So, in the previous blog, I gave a pretty in-depth overview of the advantages and disadvantages of email marketing. Email marketing is not an easy task to take on, and I personally highly recommend you seek a professional marketing company (that is what we are here for, you know) to help design the right messaging to reach your customers. However, if you do decide to go it alone, using the following guidelines will greatly decrease your margin for error and increase the likelihood that your email campaign will be a success.
1. Regulations! Businesses must comply with the federal CAN-SPAM Act. Read this and remember it. Here are a few of the highlights. Click on the link to read the full text.
a. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
b. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
c. Identify the message as an ad.
d. Tell recipients where you’re located.
e. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
f. Honor opt-out requests promptly
g. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.
2. Develop a quality mailing list. Businesses need a comprehensive and easily available list of all the e-mail recipients. Whether that is from a subscriber page on their website, or through a list purchasing service, there are a ton of mailing lists available out there, but not all of them are worth obtaining (even some of the free ones). Spend some time in generating the list, accumulating the relevant addresses and verifying those addresses. Don’t forget your past customers. If they have been with you in the past, liked your product or service, chances of them being interested in what you have to say are pretty good. Don’t mail randomly. Pre-screen your recipients, categorize them by specific demographic or target information and you will increase the effectiveness of your campaign. The more time spent on refining your lists, the better your responses are likely to be.
3. Double Opt In & Sign Up confirmation
a. As an added safeguard against anti-spamming laws, always make your mailing lists double opt-in. This means that when a new user subscribes to your site or mailing list, they will be sent an email with a link that they must click on to confirm their subscription. This is very important because many people try to use a fake email account, someone else’s email address, or can accidentally enter an incorrect email address. If the person uses someone else’s email address, this extra precaution removes the chance that the person who receives the message will report your email as spam.
b. In addition to the Double Opt In, every email you send should have a link that allows the receiver to unsubscribe. This is also a requirement of the CAN-Spam Act, but we thought it warranted another note here. Not providing this in your email is illegal and also an instant sign of spamming.
c. Contact Information is another requirement. You should also clearly include your organization name, physical address or P.O. Box, phone number, and fax. This should be done with or without those laws, as it also increases your credibility as a legitimate business. It also allows for potential customers to make direct contact with you if they have any questions or want to know more about your products or services.
4. Personalization – Emails specifically addressed to the individual have a greater response rate than those that are generic and impersonal. It is very easy to include a mail merge that personalizes the email or newsletter.
5. Formatting Content
a. Create a Powerful Subject Line – When your email reaches the recipient, you have about a half of a second to grab their attention. Make sure the information in the headline accurately describes the information contained within the email, but also makes the reader want to read the content within.
b. Pyramid Your Content – Always include the most interesting content in the first paragraph of your email. A lot of people have an email preview pane. They won’t read the rest of the email if the first paragraph doesn’t catch their attention.
c. Keep it Simple – It will keep your readers reading, it will limit your spam filtering rate, and it just looks more professional. Too many fonts, sizes, and colors trigger spam filters and look cluttered. Too many images do the same thing.
d. Make sure you include a text-only version for those non-html emailers. Though few and far between, we know that they are still out there. And they are some of the hardest to reach.
6. Effective Distribution
a. Choose the right day of the week and the right time of day. Emails sent on Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to have higher open rates and click through rates as well as emails sent at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. People are generally getting ready to go to lunch or leave for the day and may have a few minutes to spare because they don’t want to start new tasks before they leave.
b. With newsletters, consistency in timing helps establish trust, and it helps people to expect your newsletter. It also increases your open rates and click through rates. Plan newsletter to arrive on the same day of every week or two weeks, or month. As long as it is consistent, people will respond.
7. Welcome New Subscribers – Set up an auto response email to new subscribers. This has several benefits. First, it makes the new subscriber feel like you are welcoming them to the “club”. It also helps solidify their presence by recognizing them and establishing them. This is also a great opportunity to engage them. You can offer special incentives or discounts to products or services only available to new subscribers, only available for a specified period of time. It can be a call to action. And the more involved the subscriber is in the beginning, the more likely they will hang around.
8. Spam Filters: There is a reason why there are laws and there is a reason why there are spam filters. Not everyone follows the rules and the smarter the spammers get, the smarter the filters have to be. In turn, legitimate businesses have to use extra precautions when creating their emails so that they don’t get picked off by the filters even if the content is secure and the receiver has subscribed to the information.
a. Use contrasting colors for back ground and text. If you use 2 colors within the same family of colors (think light blue text on a dark blue background or vice versa) – spam filters might think you are hiding text.
b. Using the right and wrong words: words like “free”, “sex”, “Viagra”, and anything with an “Exclamation!” are very heavy spam triggers. You should avoid these types of words whenever and wherever possible. Experienced writers will have a full list of these words and will know how to create an email that grabs your audience’s attention.
c. Images: Don’t include too many images (1-2 per email is a good rule) and keep images small.
9. Test Your Email!
a. Test Your Links – make sure they go somewhere. This is what you are trying to get people to do. If they click on a link that doesn’t work it demeans your purpose and your credibility.
b. Test the whole email for spam filter pickup. Signing up for multiple email accounts is easy and free. You can set up a Gmail account, a Hotmail account, and a Yahoo! account. You may also have a friend who works for a large corporation that have their own firewalls. Test the email on a small scale before you send it to your entire email list. If the email gets pushed to the junk mail folder or the spam folder or gets completely filtered and not delivered, then you will know that you have some clean up to do.
c. There are also tools out there that will help you determine if you have too many flags in your email. One tool is spam assassin. It is software that will send you a report and a list of why your email was considered spam.
10. Proof, Edit, Make Sure There Are NO Errors – once it is sent, there is no pulling it back. Give it to a colleague, a friend, anyone that hasn’t already seen it through every revision and have them take a long, slow, look at it. Even the slightest mistake will stand out. This is a representation of your company. Make the impression last.
So you can see there is a lot to know about email marketing before you hit the send button. Full Moon Design Group can help you achieve your goals while avoiding costly errors. We can ensure that your message goes out at the right time, to the right people, and with the best possible outcomes. Building an effective email campaign isn’t easy, but we make the process easy for you. We integrate it with your overall marketing campaign to gain maximum exposure for your business and your brand. There is a right mix of elements and we can help you determine what the right mix is for you. Give us a call. 512-428-9072